Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsymbaliuk leaves Moscow after threats

3 January 2022, 02:32 PM

Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsymbaliuk, citing legal and physical threats against him, has left Russia for good after being summoned by Russian prosecutors for questioning.

“I had to leave Russia as I feel there is a threat to my personal safety,” Tsymbaliuk told Ukraine’s Hromadske TV.

“It seems that the Russian junta has shown its true face,” he said. “(Russia) claims to have revoked the summons for questioning, but that does not mean that it will not happen again. Previously, there were other red flags indicating (Russia) intends to clamp down on the last Ukrainian reporter in Moscow.”

Tsymbaliuk was the only Ukrainian journalist officially accredited in Russia, and has worked there as a correspondent for UNIAN, a Kyiv-based news agency, for the last thirteen years.

Known for his firm pro-Ukrainian stance, Tsymbaliuk was a regular guest on political talk shows on Russian television. His YouTube channel is one of the most popular political channels in Ukraine, reaching 400,000 subscribers.

Tsymbaliuk stated that in the last two months he had been the target of an organized slander and disinformation campaign spread by top Russian political pundits.

“There were those who wanted me to be tried in court, others called me a spy, there was other nonsense,” said Tsymbaliuk. “Now I need to wait and see what to do next.”

“Let me tell you a secret: Although I did work in Russia for the last thirteen years, it was never my intention to settle down there. I am actually fine with never going back there.”

Tsymbaliuk said he was not aware if a case has been filed against him in Russia, though he says that various derogatory and threatening statements have been published about him in Russian media. A number of Russian MPs have also demanded that the police launch investigations into the journalist – with tensions reaching their peak when Tsymbaliuk was summoned for questioning.

“My solicitor, Nikolay Polozov, attended the questioning in my stead,” Tsymbaliuk said. “However, the prosecutors did not turn up. My solicitor was told the summons had been revoked. Is it really so? There’s a lack of information at the moment. I’m in no hurry to return Russia, as I have no intention of becoming the Kremlin’s hostage and awaiting the next hostage exchange. There are enough Ukrainians held hostage in Russia and we need to get them out of there.”

Polozov said on Dec.15 that Tsymbaliuk had been charged with extremism and a number of administrative cases were to be filed against him.  

Tsymbaliuk says he was also accused of incitement to hostility against Russians.

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